Sep/Oct 2018 Current Moscow Time: 20:24:00
18 September 2018

  The world’s biggest country, in a magazine. Since 1956.


Author: Ivan Kobilyakov
Translation: Paul E. Richardson
Illustrations/Images by Ivan Kobilyakov

Jan/Feb 2018
Page 30   (12 pages)

Summary: We travel to a distant, Siberian lake, Russia’s second deepest, in search of the remains of ancient Evenk culture. The reindeer may be largely gone, but fishing is still an important, and powerful, shared tradition.


After Lake Baikal, Lake Khantayskoye is Russia’s second deepest freshwater lake. Its ancient name, Kutarama, means “Wing Lake” in the Evenk language. Or, according to another version, “Big Water.”

For most of history, this area was inhabited only by the Evenk people. They lived a nomadic life: reindeer herding, hunting, and fishing. But during the first half of the twentieth century, their lifestyle became a bit less nomadic. Several wooden homes started to appear on the western shore of Lake Khantayskoye, laying the foundation, in 1952, for a small, flourishing village also know as Lake Khantayskoye.

To this day, the village (population 226) is the only settlement within hundreds of kilometers.


Fourteen passengers were seated with me on the scheduled helicopter flight between Dudinka and Lake Khantayskoye village. Three young boys sitting across from me were returning from summer holidays in Sochi. Next to me was a thirty-something fellow wearing a black baseball cap turned backwards beneath a pair of red headphones. All the other passengers were middle-aged or elderly women. And all fourteen were either of Dolgan or Evenk heritage, and wore bored, nothing-special-here expressions, as if we were simply heading out on a bus ride.

“You a tourist?” asked my red-headphoned neighbor.

“Yes,” I replied. “You could say that. I’m hoping to see how native people live in northern villages.”

“That’s cool! You visiting for long?”

“Until the next helicopter.”

“So, two weeks... I’m Anton, by the way.”

He removed his headphones and we shook hands. Our conversation did not last very long, due to the fact that we had to shout to be heard over the noise of the engines. All I could make out was that Anton lives in Dudinka and was going to Khantayskoye to visit his relatives.

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